Where Is The Intersection Of Technology, Industry, And People?

Kerry Brown

These days, we are inundated with a seemingly endless flow of new technology in both our personal and professional lives. What does all this change mean for our work lives?

Trying to understand how technology is changing the way we work is a constant challenge. But the question is relevant to workers in all industries today, and its relevance will continue as long as technology races forward.

The development of digital technology has led many people to ask, “Will digital tech really change jobs, or is it just a buzzword?” The answer is clear—technology has already changed jobs, and it will only continue to do so. Through design thinking and the creation of personas, we can now understand, and even predict, how technology can revolutionize different jobs.

For example, digital technology can enable a call center representative to work from anywhere, anytime instead of being stuck in a cubicle. The takeaway? A realization that much more exploration is needed as digital transformation takes off.

In fact, as the digital tsunami gathers force, many observers have started to ask, “How do organizations and people adapt to the digital work world?” In a future blog series, we will explore the factors organizations must consider as they transform into more innovative digital workplaces.

At a minimum, every industry faces changing workforce demographics. With Baby Boomers retiring at the rate of about 18,000 every day, millennials will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025. Even as these seasoned workers walk out the door, plenty of new talent is coming in.

Interestingly, as time moves on, something amazing is happening: Personas and digital concepts are coming to life.  Organizations are making changes to get results with the digital workforce. For example, one automobile association improved its bottom line by changing the entire business model of its call center. The company eliminated its on-site call centers and created a more mobile workforce with flexible work hours to take advantage of the ebb and flow of consumer needs. The result was happier employees, better customer care, and increased revenue.

All industries will be impacted by digital technology in some way. Some industries are already in the middle of the storm, while others are just starting to prepare:

Different Industry Impacts From Digitalization

Here are some specific observations on the impact of digital technology on the defense, retail, hospitality, transportation, and grocery industries.

With AI, machine learning, robotics, and other emerging technologies becoming more mainstream, the challenge remains of how to make innovation drive workforce performance.

We will share the outcomes as we further explore this topic with customers and hear from some future-of-work thought leaders at MIT.  Everyone has insights to share; we would like to hear yours.

For more information, please contact me at kerry.brown@sap.com.  Some top-of-mind questions include:

  1. What innovation is disrupting your industry (please name your industry)? 
  2. What is your biggest workforce-related challenge caused by digital disruption?
  3. What is the average age of your workforce and how are demographic changes (the influx of millennials, the retirement of Baby Boomers) affecting your organization?

About Kerry Brown

Kerry Brown is the VP of User Adoption at SAP. She is an international speaker on change management, learning, talent and organizational development, social and collaboration, interacting with diverse global occupational cultures and industries, including many Fortune customers.